Sisterhood Blog

Israeli Scientist (and Grandmother) Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

By Gabrielle Birkner

  • Print
  • Share Share

Take that, Larry Summers.

Israeli scientist (and grandmother!) Ada Yonath, 70, became the first woman since 1964 to win the Nobel Prize in chemistry — and the first Israeli woman ever to do so.

According to Nobel Prize selection board, Yonath, together with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the U.K. and Thomas Steitz of the U.S., received the award for pioneering “studies of the structure of the ribosome.”

In a profile of the scientist, published last year by the Web site Israel 21c, Yonath weighed in on the stereotype that women don’t have what it takes to succeed in mathematics and the sciences:

“Women make up half the population,” [Yonath] says. “I think the population is losing half of the human brain power by not encouraging woman to go into the sciences. Woman can do great things if they are encouraged to do so.”

… Today, plans to retire are a long way off and she is still working hard, welcoming organized groups into her lab through a program organized by a local high-tech company, El-Op. This program encourages young women to enter scientific fields by giving them a closer look at the scientific life.

“I want them to decide for themselves if they want to study science,” she says. “I would like woman to have the opportunity to do what is interesting to them, to go after their curiosity. And I would like the world to be open to that. I know in many places there is opposition to that.”

Haaretz is reporting that upon hearing the news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Yonath to express his “enormous pride, along with the entire nation” for her achievements and for clinching of a prize that he called the “Olympics of humanity.”

Yonath was born, in 1939, into a poor family in Jerusalem. Encouraged by her parents to pursue the kind of education that they never had the chance to acquire, she went on to earn degrees in chemistry and biochemistry, before completing her doctorate in x-ray crystallography at Weizmann Institute of Science and accepting post-doctoral fellowships at Carnegie Mellon and MIT. She is currently the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Science, Nobel Prize, Israel, Chemistry, Ada Yonath

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.